Cold. And colder still. JJ squinted out his kitchen window at the whiteness and the harsh sun glare from the icy field in back. Gusty winds kicked up snow that swirled and sparkled in the air. Fairy dust of frost, enchanting no one. Except…
… Another cold day in the 90’s. JJ regained consciousness on a strange couch after a night of acid and Pink Floyd. Alone in someone’s apartment, everyone gone. Who was that guy? And that girl with the curls and the sweater. Oh my God. Tripping nicely, he had watched her watching The Wall. Her, luminous and ripe. Him, deranged and all aflutter. “So ya, thought ya, might like to…go to the show.”
He drove home after guzzling some orange juice from the strange fridge. A bright and sunny bluster of a day. Eight degrees? Ten? The heater in his beater of a Sentra blew air that was slightly warmer than outside. His feet felt like two ice blocks. The road was gruel gray, salt streaked with white, like the cracked surface of some playground for ice krakens. JJ was spent, dazed and dull. When he got home he burrowed into his blankets and slept for twenty hours.
The phone rang. His mother, dead now. “Where are you?” A cousin’s First Communion (in the winter?), missed. A sacrament. Well, he had taken his wafer, hadn’t he? Actually, two paper wafers. And he had drunk prodigiously from the Wild Turkey. Communion for the wayward, blotter and booze, body and blood. It did the trick.
That night he went to the bar to watch the Patrick Ewing Anthony Mason Knicks. Something light- draft Budweiser and cigarettes. You could still smoke in the bars then. And he did, like a chimney.
Carl came in. “What the hell happened to you the other night?”
“The other night.”
“You mean after?”
“Yeah. Where’d you go?”
“There was this girl.”
“The girl with the curls?”
“Holy shit. You didn’t…?”
JJ thought of that part in The Wall when Pink really starts losing his shit, disillusioned and drug addled, holed up in some hotel room hell.
“So nothing. We watched The Wall.”
“That movie sucks. What about the boyfriend?”
“He watched too.” JJ thought of the girl with the curls, how a golden light emanated, how they smoked a joint and watched the movie while the boyfriend dozed. She turned and caught him watching her but just smiled. He had almost fallen off the couch. “What was her name?”
“Kelly or Kayla or something,” Carl said.
“Kara,” JJ said, remembering now. “Kara.”
Carl looked at him. “What the hell is the matter with you?”
“I think I’m in love.”
“Well get in line.”
“First in line,” JJ said. “I’m first.”
On the TV, Starks hit a three and the announcer said, “After missing his first nine, he’s really starting to heat up now. Hot and cold, as usual.”
JJ knew what he meant.
…In the present, the blowing snow settled until the next gust. Kara, the girl with the curls, is an alterna-crunchy personal trainer in Pennsylvania (Spirit Flex™). She’s married to an accountant and they have two kids. (He tracked her down on Facebook, hoping for pictures. Like we all do). Carl is a bagel baker right here in town. And JJ is JJ, also right here.
The boyfriend? Who the hell knows.